Although the conflict between Israel and Palestine has endured since Israel became a state in 1948, there is a possible solution in the foreseeable future, said Norman Finkelstein, author of political books about the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Finkelstein gave a lecture Wednesday night titled “Palestine: Roots of the Conflict & Prospects for Peace.” The lecture was hosted by the Society for Islamic Awareness, Amnesty International at UT and the Palestine Solidarity Committee.
Finkelstein said he believes there will be a resolution made by the two groups and that other Americans share this opinion.
“A plurality of Americans — nearly half — support the Palestinian request for statehood,” he said. “That itself is an indication of the breakup of support generally in the United States for the Israeli position in the conflict.”
Finkelstein said Palestine’s best chance to fight back is by not fighting at all.
“I don’t think the Palestinians have the option of armed resistance,” he said. “The only tactic they can successfully use against Israel, and behind them the United States, is non-violent civil resistance and disobedience.”
Finkelstein said he is confident now more than ever of a solution occurring.
“I’m actually pretty hopeful. I think we have a chance to actually see this conflict come to an end,” he said. “They can remove it from the pages of current events and move it into the place where, God only knows, it finally belongs: the history books.”
Biology junior Daniel Steinman said although the lecture was informative, he did not agree with some of the points Finkelstein made.
“He made it seem like a simple fix, but in actuality it’s much more complicated,” Steinman said. “They’ve been in conflict for decades, so if it were so simple, why haven’t they figured it out already?”
Steinman said his travels in Israel this past January allowed him to speak to several members of the Israeli Defense Forces. Steinman said he asked them how they felt about the conflict.
“They were afraid if they gave the Palestinians any land, they would want more and the conflict won’t be resolved,” he said. “Instead it’ll just cause more fighting in places where a majority of the people think they’re safe.”
Steinman said based on his experience in Israel, the best solution to the conflict would be the formation of a single, secular state.
“The vast majority of the people that I met in Israel were Jewish but not really religious,” Steinman said. “There’s only a small amount — mainly the orthodox Jews — who have these strong opinions toward keeping the ‘holy land.’ If they could agree on being one state without any religious ties to their government, then I don’t see any reason why they wouldn’t be able to coexist.”
Sarah Alfadda, chemistry junior and a member of the Palestinian Solidarity Committee, said Finkelstein has been an important figure in the movement for Palestinian self-determination.
“His advocacy for the Palestinian struggle has never been easy, and I have an immense amount of respect for a man who has given his life to share his critical geopolitical stance on Israeli policies with the world,” Alfadda said. “Whether or not you support him, it is indubitable that he speaks the truth.”
Government senior and Texans for Israel president Zach Garber said Finkelstein’s lecture did not evenly represent both sides of the conflict.
“It is important to note that his positions represent the fringe of the debate, and we hope his beliefs will not be taken as canon by those in attendance,” Garber said.
Garber said lectures such as Finkelstein’s only perpetuate conflict between the two groups.
“Texans for Israel believes that events such as this are not conducive to peace or even to an improvement of the situation,” he said. “Only through respectful, open dialogue can we as UT students hope to affect positive change in what is a complicated region of the world.”
Printed on Thursday, March 29, 2012 as: Lecture explores possibility to solve Palestine-Israel conflict
Editor's Note: The quotes from Sarah Alfadda were added after the original publication of the article.